Ryan Poles made it clear during his opening press conference. He intends to “build through the draft” and be “selective in free agency.” This would suggest that the Chicago Bears aren’t be big spenders when the market opens next month. Poles will most likely let the first couple of waves pass. Once prices start to drop, he’ll enact some serious bargain hunting to fill some key depth needs.
It isn’t the most exciting approach, but it can work if a team does its scouting well. The trick is finding players that don’t cost much but have a higher probability of their best football being ahead of them. An inexact science, to be sure, but effective when done right. There also could be some veteran bridge options. Solid players in their early 30s that can plug holes here and there for a season as the team works to fix other issues.
Here are some names that would make sense for the Bears.
Cooper Rush finds Cedrick Wilson for the 73-yard house call 💨
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 1, 2021
Chicago Bears could find lots of value on the bargain market
Cedrick Wilson Jr. (WR)
Projected cost: 2-year deal for $11 million
It isn’t a secret the Bears need help at wide receiver. While they’d love to land a surefire superstar, they may have to be more pragmatic about trying to find one. Wilson took a big step forward in Dallas this past year, going for 602 yards and six touchdowns on just 61 targets. With injuries hitting the Cowboys receiving corps, he stepped up and showed everybody he is capable of more. His ability out of the slot should be desirable to this team, given Darnell Mooney’s threat on the outside.
Robert Tonyan (TE)
Projected cost: 1-year deal for $5.5 million
The former undrafted free agent had been on a hot streak since the beginning of 2020. In that time, he amassed 70 catches for 790 yards and 13 touchdowns despite only 88 total targets. He was headed for a big payday right until he tore his ACL against Arizona. So there is a definite risk involved with this move. However, when healthy, he’s proven to be a legitimate weapon in the passing game. Particularly in the red zone.
We aren't talking about Ted Karras nearly enough pic.twitter.com/vXU53PSTde
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) October 27, 2021
Ted Karras (OG/C)
Projected cost: 3-year deal for $13 million
The former 6th round pick out of Illinois took some time to get going in his career, but he has blossomed into a capable interior blocker for the New England Patriots. Since 2019, he has allowed 38 pressures in 1,794 pass blocking snaps. By comparison, James Daniels allowed 40 in just 2021 alone. Karras may never be a tone-setter when it comes to run blocking, but he can help safeguard Justin Fields.
Anthony Walker (MLB)
Projected cost: 2-year deal for $8 million
While not the biggest linebacker for his position and prone to getting swallowed up by offensive linemen, Walker compensates with excellent intelligence, leadership skills, and the athleticism to be a constant nuisance in coverage. He was a big reason Cleveland managed to improve from 22nd in pass defense to 5th last year. Walker has deep ties to Matt Eberflus from their time together in Indianapolis. He’d make a logical addition to the defense if the Chicago Bears plan to move Roquan Smith to outside linebacker.
#Raiders’ Maurice Hurst beats Dan Feeney early to record a pressure but never gives up on the play to pick up the sack.
Rub that tummy, @mohurstjr. pic.twitter.com/t3HMmVEwPz
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) November 11, 2018
Maurice Hurst (DT)
Projected cost: 1-year deal for $2.5 million
One has to feel bad for Hurst. He’s never really been in a defense that knew how to exploit his capability as an interior pass rusher. Between 2019 and 2020, he had 504 pass rush snaps. He provided 49 pressures, 14 hits, and four sacks on the quarterback in that span. People were anxious to see what he could do in San Francisco, where they played a scheme perfect for him. Then he got injured. His style is an excellent fit for Eberflus’ defense as well. Somebody that can eat up single blocks playing between Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack.
Kyle Fuller (CB)
Projected cost: 1-year for $5.75 million
The irony here is rather palpable. Chicago cut Fuller last offseason because he’d grown too expensive. He headed off to Denver, struggled, and is again a free agent. In that time, the Bears changed to a defensive system that may fit the veteran cornerback even better than before thanks to his ability in zone coverage. It’s hard to know how much gas he has left in the tank at 30-years old, but the price makes it worth the risk.